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Is Mild Paranoia Characteristic of Depression?

I was wondering if mild paranoia is a common characteristic of depressive disorders? I was diagnosed with depression and I’m taking an SSRI for it, which has helped quite a bit, although I wouldn’t say that I’m “cured.” I also had some pretty severe hypochondria-related anxiety that started about nine months ago and lasted for about three months. The anxiety is no longer problematic–I still have hypochondriacal thoughts occasionally, but I can manage them and I know that they’re irrational and part of my depression.

I also have experienced a bit of paranoia (it’s been more noticeable since I first had the anxiety problems) with health-related things. I’m really careful about checking medications and making sure they’re the right ones. If I leave a glass of water unattended for a minute or two, I have to get a new one because of fear that someone could have put something in it. I worry that strange smells in the air are gas leaks. And sometimes if I’m on a bus or plane (I’m a little bit claustrophobic to begin with) I worry that either we’ll get into an accident or get trapped on the bus/plane or that someone has a bomb. The thing is, I know this is irrational and I know it while it’s happening–I don’t really believe it, it’s more of a “what if,” like, “I know it’s extremely unlikely that anyone drugged my drink, and I don’t know why anyone would, but it’s possible.” This is the same line of thinking I had with the hypochondria–like, “I know that this mild ache in my joints is probably nothing, but it’s possible I have rheumatoid arthritis.” I was wondering if this is characteristic of depressive disorders, or if I could have something else as well? Is it just a character flaw? I know this kind of thinking can occur with OCD, but I don’t have any rituals or compulsions. Any insight would be great.


I am very glad you are taking care of yourself with the medicine, and have taken the time to ask us this question. You identified yourself as a freshman in college, and this is a good place and time to connect with the university counselors. Since you already know your thoughts are irrational, the work is on finding a way to convince yourself of that truth. A counselor familiar with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) would be the right approach. They will help you challenge your irrational thinking with hypochondrias, paranoia, and various anxieties.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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